Nikki Haley’s breakout candidacy for the White House seems to be showing no signs of stopping.
This week, as the once-considered longshot candidate picked up key endorsements, she emerged as the winner against President Joe Biden in a new New Hampshire poll and won a mock Iowa caucus staged by the influential Young Republican National Federation (YRNF).
The results of the mock caucus, released on Nov. 13, gave the former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor 37.8 percent of the caucus votes, even eclipsing frontrunner former President Donald Trump, who picked up 23.3 percent of the vote in the precursor contest.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in third place with 16.7 percent.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest around Nikki Haley and I think she’s really worked hard … to connect with younger voters,” YRNF Midwest Regional Vice Chair Brett Barker told We Are Iowa in response to the results.
On Nov. 15, more good news for the Haley campaign came when a bipartisan poll showed her as beating out President Biden in the general elections.
The hypothetical victory was handed to Ms. Haley by 917 bipartisan registered New Hampshire voters.
Conducted by the Boston-based liberal Emerson College, the survey shows Ms. Haley would beat President Biden with 45 percent of the vote to his 39 percent, with Trump losing by five points.
In honing in on President Biden and his bid for a second term, the former U.N. ambassador denounced him for courting Chinese leader Xi Jinping—calling his meeting this week in San Francisco with him “embarrassing”—and noticeably devoid of real discussions about Chinese spying on U.S. soil.
The Emerson poll, however, also shows that for her to have a matchup with President Biden for the White House, she first needs to get past President Trump in the New Hampshire primaries.
President Trump was named the winner of the party nomination in the key “purplish” battleground state.
So far, Ms. Haley already has picked up her share of former Trump supporters as polling by The Epoch Times at several of her campaign appearances in New Hampshire shows.
Even President Trump supporters in the key battleground states like her.
At a Trump rally held on Veteran’s Day, Trump supporter Don Gorman of Deerfield, New Hampshire, said while he is “Trump all the way,” should “something happen” that his No. 1 pick was no longer in the running, he said it would be “Haley all the way.”
“The reason is she handles herself well. She has shown she has the grit as well as the brains to run this country,” said Mr. Gorman, a veteran of the Merchant Marine, who added that he likes that Ms. Haley has military connections as her husband, Michael, is a U.S. Army combat veteran and an active duty officer with the National Guard.
Mr. Gorman said he also likes that she has experience with foreign affairs and world leaders who pose potential threats to the United States.
Trump supporter John Trapp told The Epoch Times that he leans heavily toward Haley as a second pick for the White House because she has provided a thorough outline of her goals as a president.
“She also lays out how she’s going to accomplish them,” said Mr. Trapp, who, like Ms. Haley’s husband, is a U.S. Army veteran.
Ms. Haley’s supporters recently told The Epoch Times that they felt she could close what they dubbed “the Trump gap” if she could pick up support from young voters.
Scoring with young Republican voters also follows sentiment expressed by her own supporters at a recent breakfast at a New Hampshire diner that the 51-year-old needs to find a way to garner more backing from younger voters in to close what Hampton resident Erin Murphy coined the “Trump gap.”
Ms. Murphy, who at 45 was on the younger side of the packed Poor Boy’s Diner in Londonderry where Haley recently spoke, told The Epoch Times that while she realizes most Republicans attract a mostly 50-and-up crowd, Ms. Haley had few young people in her audiences.
Mary Weston, state chairman of the Iowa chapter of YRNF, told We Are Iowa that she believes Haley’s debate performances are partly responsible for her growing popularity with younger voters.
“A lot of it had to do with the most recent debate actually, and I think some of the comments that came out of the debate,” Ms. Weston said. “The media surrounding the debate influenced a lot of people.”
Another possibility may be Ms. Haley’s unique position on abortion. While she describes herself as personally staunchly pro-life, she doesn’t believe in a total ban on abortion, saying there has to be a “middle ground” on the issue.
As for Ms. Haley’s political wrestling match with Vivek Ramaswamy during the recent GOP debate, it definitely landed her in the spotlight, with nearly every post-debate headline leading off about the on-stage skirmish between the two.
Mr. Ramaswamy’s attacks seemed to pay off for Ms. Haley while hurting him.
While Mr. Ramaswamy himself, the youngest candidate running for president at 38, is a member of the Young Republican Federation, he had a miserable showing in the mock Iowa caucus, picking up only 2.2 percent of the vote.
Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did better and scored 4.4 percent of the vote as a write-in candidate.
The wealthy entrepreneur was especially criticized as making a sexist statement when he referred to Ms. Haley as “Dick Cheney in three-inch heels,” a comment he also applied to Mr. DeSantis.
Mr. Cheney, who served as vice president under President George W. Bush, has been faulted for his pro-war positions.
Ms. Haley responded to Mr. Ramaswamy’s dig by saying, “They’re five-inch heels,” and she wears them for “ammunition.”
By the time of the debate, Ms. Haley had already long outlived another comment by ex-CNN commentator Don Lemon who said in February that she was past her prime as a candidate in her early 50s.
Her growing endorsements alone have defied the idea.
On Nov. 14, the day after the mock caucus results were released, the Haley campaign announced it had picked up 72 endorsements from both community and political influencers in the Hawkeye State including Mary Kramer, a former U.S. ambassador to Barbados under President George W. Bush.
Just in time for her uptick, Ms. Haley announced this week that $10 million worth of campaign ads promoting her for the presidency would start running in Iowa and New Hampshire in December.
Ms. Haley’s move to close the Trump gap is putting her in the spotlight and making her fair game for the competition.
On Nov. 15, the same day the Emerson College poll results were released, Mr. DeSantis, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), referred to Ms. Haley’s proposal that every social media user undergo a background check before being allowed to post as “dangerous and unconstitutional” and likened it to China’s government-controlled speech policies.
Mr. Ramaswamy’s sexist barb aside, some hard-right conservatives and Trump supporters have characterized Ms. Haley as a warmonger for saying that the United States needs to militarily back Ukraine and Israel.
Her onetime ally President Trump is also increasingly targeting her campaign.
In September as she rose in polls, Mr. Trump—who appointed her as ambassador to the U.N. and once described her as a “fantastic person” and “somebody who gets it” at a news conference announcing her departure from her ambassador position—started calling her “bird brain” during his campaign.
President Trump has made comments at campaign appearances suggesting he feels betrayed by Ms. Haley for running against him.